The Assembly of the Noble Head Picture

I'm taking a Welsh literature class.

Uhm. This may be a bit of an inside joke, maybe?

So Branwen, a Welsh princes, is married off to the Irish king, but during the celebrations her half-brother Efnysien mutilates the king's horses. There are gifts and apologies and everything seems right, but once she's been in Ireland a year, everyone starts treating her real crap as revenge. She sends a bird to her brother Bendigeidfran, the king of 'the great island' (=wales/england) and he comes along with an army to avenge the insult. He is a giant, by the by.
In Ireland, people are scared shitless, so they lure the army into a house where they are a ton of warriors hidden in bags. Efnysien goes around squeezing the bags, asking the Irish what's in it. Flour, they say. Right, he goes, some flower. He squeezes the warriors head flat until brains come out.
Side note: the irish for flour and flower is the same, and 'flower' can be used as synonym for a warrior. Pun much? Incidentally, this also works in Dutch.
Now, everyone is properly awed of the Welsh and they all sit around the fire to make peace and chat, catch up with the in-laws. Branwen has a son, and Efnysien asks to see his little nephew. Then he tosses him into the fire. What the poop, Efnisien.
War breaks out, I mean, personally I woulda just strung Mister Violent up, but hey. There is lots of massacre, but the Irish have this magic cauldron, when you throw a dead man in, he will come out right as rain the next day, except for not being able to talk. This means bulk ressurection for everyone, until Efnysien decides to atone for his sins, smuggles himself into the cauldron and breaks it.
Now, the Welsh win, but the only people left in all of Ireland are five pregnant women (who end up repopulating Ireland through some very incestuous relationships), seven warriors, ol' Bendy and Branwen. Oops. Bendigeidfran is hit by a poison spear in the foot, and he figures he's as good as dead (by foot-poison) so he orders his last suriving men to cut his head off and take it with him. Because it's good company. Also, it has these magic protecting powers. He tells them to go back to Wales and go to the magic otherworldly royal hall and feast, but UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES open a certain door.
So the lot go back, on the shores of Wales they hear there's been a bit of a coup in the meantime and Branwen dies of heartbreak because she just feels so guilty. Hey, her brother is a disembodied talking head, her husband, son, half-brother, ALL OF IRELAND and probably everyone she's ever known is dead. (Minus the seven warriors and those who staed behind in Wales.) I don't blame her.
The rest continue on to the hall, and party for 80 years without getting older. Then, someone opens the Forbidden Door. Of course. You knew that was going to happen the moment I mentioned it, didn't you? All the grief comes flooding back, and they bury the head in London where it protects the borders forever. Well, until it's dug up. *ominous music*

And that's the background. Did you read all that? If so, well done!

If not, the important details: flour/flower is the same word in Welsh and can be a synonym for warrior, Branwen dies of the sads on the shores of Wales, Bendigeidfrain is fucking weird, and the magic hall has an evil forbidden door they've been warned not to open. Also, there's lots of fighting and killing.

Gods, I love these stories. One of my favourite bits of medieval Irish lit was when there's been a huge battle and the text said the battlefield was "white with the brains from the warrior's heads".

Now that I think about it, sounds like a zombie's best dream, doesn't it?

P.S. This recapping is good practise for my midterm!
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